In The Oil Business
Food & Home Entertaining|June 2019

Low on fire and high on flavour, Banhoek Chilli Oil is a brand that’s set to catapult its producers to entrepreneurial success – and delight the palates of spice lovers around the country

Richard Holmes 

The first time I meet Ken Kinsey-Quick, we’re chatting in his home office in the Western Cape Winelands. Dominating the wide desk are four vast computer screens spitting out a constant stream of graphs and figures from financial markets around the world. We’re chatting oil and futures. But for a change, they’re of the foodie – not the financial – kind.

After decades working in the global financial industry both in South Africa and abroad, Ken’s making a change. By the time you read this, chances are he’ll have hung up his investment hat to focus full-time on his new passion: chilli oil.

“When I was living in Paris, I loved the sachets of chili-infused oil that would arrive with your takeaway pizza,” reminisces Ken, who would hoard the sachets for adding a hit of chilli zing to pizza, pasta and salads. Back in South Africa he couldn’t find anything similar, so – to feed his chilli craving – the first seeds of a new business were born.

Those came to fruition in February this year, with the official launch – to gathered media, friends and chilli fans – of Banhoek Chilli Oil. The launch took place at The Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town, where chef Karen Dudley creates inspiring globetrotting plates. But more on that later; Ken had a lot of work to do to reach that point.

To solve his chilli-oil conundrum, he turned to his brotherin-law, Adi Meintjes, a born-and-bred Karoo farmer and passionate foodie. “I said to Ken: ‘Of course I can make this for you!’” laughs Adi. “It was perfect timing as I was looking for a new challenge, so I got straight to work in my home kitchen.”

The first question was which oil to use. The strong flavour of olive oil would mask the delicate chilli notes and, after trialling sunflower oil, corn oil and rice bran oil, the pair finally settled on using canola oil for the base oil. Cholesterol-free, canola oil is low in saturated fats, high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and full of vitamins E and K.

Using local products – their canola comes from the Western Cape’s Overberg region – also helped to ensure a steady supply of quality ingredients. “When there are only two ingredients, you have to work with quality products because there’s nowhere to hide!” laughs Adi.

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